A Personal Review of A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey

On my search for short stories, I found this book and was delighted. An anthology of stories by the dragon queen herself, Anne McCaffrey! I’ve been attached to dragons ever since I was a young girl. McCaffrey’s take on the creatures speaks to my taste. There a warmth to them just as there is in the human characters, and to see such care taken with both is thoroughly appreciated. On top of that, her descriptions breathe life into them. The protagonists, antagonists, side characters, and dragons; they are all given wants, desires, and peeves.

Let’s not forget her infamous world, Pern. It had been so long since I had visited it and while I was reading this collection, the culture and shape McCaffrey inserts filled in my memory splendidly. This book is exceptional in this regard because it presents multiple points of views. We have a boy who was raised in the *dragon home, a girl and her family who are on the run and homeless, a story following a young woman’s coming of age as a courier – known as a “runner” in Pern, and two twins who were to grow up as regular civilians but instead are chosen as candidates for dragon-riding.

What struck me the most wasn’t the plots or characters, Pern or the dragons, but my own point of view. Now, I’ve never felt like the “glass is half empty” kind of person, but with every story I constantly expected the worst. With every story, I was proven wrong. I would assume an ending with a bittersweet taste, perhaps like dark chocolate.

However, the flavors I consumed were quite different. The sweetness of milk chocolate for “The Smallest Dragon Boy”. As Aramina was flown away from her family, promised a fulfilling future, I tasted the sweet juices and pulp of a clementine. I drank a smooth mango lassi as Tenna danced with her adversary in “Runner of Pern. To clear my palate, I sipped a glass of Beaujolais once Nian and Neru found they could stay together even though they’d be apart because of their new dragon companions.

There’s not much I can say beyond that, for I don’t want to spoil the journey for others if they wish to embark on it. A Gift of Dragons is an anthology of short stories, after all, so dedicating 300 words to each story would be difficult without spelling out most of the content.

Well. It probably wouldn’t be if I knew how to “close read” (which I’m learning about, I’ll have you know) … but that’s beside the point!

The point is: reading this book revealed a part of myself that I didn’t know about. It’s like this pit in my heart that’s slowly being ravaged by neurotoxins (a fancy way of saying, “hi, I have depression,” I suppose). Reading this book gave me the antidote I needed, and now I can take the time to care for the aftermath. It was a silent thing, this decay, revelation, and now TLC. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this after an unpredictable life due to my illnesses and how depression affects my psyche. One way or another, the series of stories benefited me and that is something I can appreciate. Even if it didn’t have an impact such as that, I still would have given it four out of five stars.

Given my emotional investment and enjoyment of the book, I’d give it a lovely 4 1/2 stars. I won’t be reviewing it again once I’ve learned the art of close reading and book essays – I fear my experience with this particular title would be ruined.

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